Obituary for Nov. 16, 2012

By Baker City Herald November 16, 2012 09:01 am

Bill Wells

Sumpter, 1926-2012

William Ward Wells, 86, of Sumpter died Nov. 2, 2012, at his home.

A celebration of Bill’s life will take place next summer.  

Bill was born on March 9, 1926, at Fort Scott, Kan., to Robert and Cora (Coonrod) Wells. He grew up in Fort Scott, graduating from high school. He enlisted during World War II at Fort Scott and served as a corporal in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943 and served until fall of 1946.  He was quite a mechanic. Their bunk was at the end of an airway. As the planes came in, he could hear how many cylinders the airplane was running on.

Upon being honorably discharged, he entered California State University, graduating in the top 10 percent of his class in 1949 with a bachelor of arts degree in business.

In 1954 he married Lorraine Maxim in Anderson, Calif.  They had two children, Geoff and Sydney.

Bill continued his studies, attending the University of Oregon and graduating in 1956.

In January 1959 he secured a job with Bear Creek Logging Company in Anderson in order to learn the logging business from “stump up.”  The logging company was merged into U.S. Plywood Corp., the pre-eminent nationwide marketing company for plywood, lumber and panel products of all kinds.

Bill progressed through a career spanning almost 23 years with U.S.P. and its successor company, Champion International, into which U.S.P. was merged in 1970. As vice president in charge of timberlands and manufacturing (except paper) he supervised 30 factories and all related construction projects throughout the U.S. and foreign countries. He represented the company as chief executive of its ventures in Nigeria, Mindanao, Malaysia (Borneo), Peru and Honduras.  This entailed supervision of over 6,000 employees, annual sales of more than $50 million and construction projects with values of approximately $2 billion.  Bill was a member of United Airlines’ million-mile club, three times over.

From 1986 to 1989, using his many years of experience in construction, he joined his son-in-law in development of a family owned 27-acre subdivision including a 6-inch water/fire protection system and construction of rental properties. In 1989 he returned to the mainland at the urging of a longtime friend to join him in the precious metals mining venture.

Bill’s interests began leaning towards the mining industry. He worked for many in the next years, he went to work for Catalina Capital Group in Beverly Hills, Calif., for a company with worldwide interests in production and marketing of timber and mineral prospects.  Then to Brogan, Ore., to develop a 980-acre mining property in Eastern Oregon.

These last years he worked with Alpine Minerals and Mining Company and the Bald Mountain Mine in Sumpter, procuring a large underground mining property.  Bill was a certified underground miner and very knowledgeable in both lode and placers and did so not only in Sumpter, but John Day.

When not working, Bill enjoyed building his home in Sumpter. He was a gifted painter and woodworker. 

He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Robert Wells.

Bill is survived by his wife Lorraine of Sumpter, son, Geoff Wells of Baker City, daughter, Sydney Lee Smith of Hawaii, and great-granddaughter, Jezika Wells  of Baker City.

Donations in memory of Bill may be made to the Sumpter Public Library through Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home, P.O. Box 543, Halfway, OR 97834.